Pathway of #Pain

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Pathway of Pain

If my days were untroubled and my heart always light,

Would I seek that fair land where there is no night?
If I never grew weary with the weight of my load,
Would I seek for God’s peace at the end of the road?

If I never knew sickness and never felt pain,
Would I search for a hand to help and sustain?
If I walked without sorrow and lived without loss
Would my soul seek solace at the foot of the cross?

If all I desired was mine day by day,
Would I kneel before God and earnestly pray?
If God sent no winter to freeze me with fear,
Would I yearn for the warmth of spring every year?

I ask myself these and the answer is plain,
If my life were pleasure and I never knew pain –
I’d seek God less often and need Him much less,
For God is sought more often in times of distress.

And no one knows God or sees Him as plain –
As those who have met Him on the “Pathway of Pain.”

Author: Helen Steiner Rice

Cry to Jesus for Rest and #JOY

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Cry to Jesus for Rest and #JOY

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
—Matthew 11:28

Resting is not something that comes naturally to me. Back in the days filled with activities, rest came as an afterthought. How things have changed! In this season of my life I need to rest between tasks to not become overly fatigued. Sometimes I need a day or two for recuperation. Gone are the days when I could clean my entire house in one morning.

Awhile back a song kept playing itself over and over in my mind and made a great impact on me. The lyrics remind me of the immense comfort and JOY I can find in Jesus when I let myself completely rest in Him. He hears my cries and knows my pain, and I am calmed when I remember that He holds my life in His hands.

When we live with daily pain, so many hours are filled not only with pain, but toss in extreme fatigue, canceled plans and stress and you have the perfect formula for frustration.

Are you like me, thinking you can’t possibly make it through the day or maybe even just the next hour? Do you wonder if you will ever be able to lead some kind of normal life again?

Beloved, God reassures us that He is always available and waiting for us to lean on Him. He encourages us to turn to Him and let Him bear the brunt of our burdens. In return we will find rest and that peace that surpasses all understanding.

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God;

and the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:6-7

This song is a great encouragement for me to keep on trusting that God wants the best for me because in the end we will never feel pain again as we revel in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior.

Please watch and listen to this great video of “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)” by Chris Rice. Let the words and melody wash over you. As a believer in Christ Jesus, allow these lyrics to increase your JOY and hope in Jesus and His ultimate plan for you, which is to live with Him forever.

 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, you can read the lyrics here.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 2

This is the last part of this series from GraceThruFaith.

 

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Why Do Bad Things Happen

Job’s problem explained.

Last time I said that this is the first and most frequently asked question when people experience serious trouble, whether they’re believers or not. There appear to be at least three answers to this age-old question. The first and by far the most common is found by looking in a mirror. The second has to do with the consequences of sin in the world (we covered these last time) And the third concerns our own sin nature. I’ll share a story to tie the first two together and then use a brief summary of the Book of Job for answer number three.

Tell me a Story

I’ve altered certain facts to disguise this believer’s identity, but his story is true. To most he seems like a friendly guy who takes life pretty much in stride, but behind closed doors he’s way different. Family tales of his temper tantrums are the stuff of legends. Some years ago he suffered a heart attack that required a bypass operation. While recovering in the hospital he learned of a minor accident that had left a small scratch on his car. The next time his family came to visit, he blew up and threw them out. He ignored the doctor’s advice on changing his eating habits to combat his cholesterol problem. I witnessed his temper once in a retail business when he didn’t get the service he wanted. He recently had another heart attack, and the day after getting out of the hospital sent his wife out for a fast food sandwich with fries and a coke. He claims that God sent his heart attacks and refuses to heal him.

Who’s in Charge Here?

This is a great example of our unwillingness to recognize the effect of sin in our world and then accept responsibility for our own behavior.

Read the rest here.

#Faith For Things Not Seen

I was privileged to serve as a counselor for Royal Family Kids Camp in the summers of 1996 and 1997. RFKC’s mission statement: “Create life-changing moments for children of abuse.”

Let me just say that I did not go into this venture lightly, but turning everything over to God during my first week at camp resulted in even more faith in Him to walk with me through everything in my life. I wrote this piece after my first year at camp because I wanted to make sure I never forget the many ways God worked in my life and in the life of one particular little girl in my charge.

Beloved, if you ever have the chance to work at camps such as these, don’t hesitate! The rewards will be so much more than you can imagine. And as always, I give glory to God who never, ever lets me down.

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Faith for Things Not Seen

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
—Hebrews 11:1

Lord, how can You possibly ask me to do this? I’m not trained to be a counselor! The words welled up in me as I struggled to understand God’s persistent nudging. Suddenly I could feel His loving arms wrapped around my shoulders like a warm shawl. And then I distinctly heard the words: “My child, I want you to do this for Me.”

Well, how could I ignore that? I bowed to God’s greatness and silently whispered my thanks to Him for being so patient with me. And then I prayed one last thing: God, if You really want me to do this, please enable me for the task.

When God called me to be a counselor at a Christian camp for abused and abandoned children, I thought that this wonderful endeavor would be a blessing to some very needy children. Week after week, the Lord pointed my eyes to the announcement in the church bulletin, yet I kept ignoring the urgings I felt that God wanted me to participate in some way. The word “counselor” stood out more than anything else in that announcement, but I felt completely unequipped for this position.

Four short months later I was at camp. One of the little girls I had in my charge was a particularly tough case. Eight-year-old Debbie* had been shuffled from one foster home to another. She was certain of only one thing: that she could expect abuse or negative treatment on a regular basis. Like so many of these abused children, she learned to bury her true emotions and instead developed a defensive posture, along with the frequent tendency to declare “No!” in response to any suggestions, fun or not.

Debbie’s stubbornness was not easy for any of us to deal with. Whenever we were to start anything new, whether it was crafts, chapel, or even games, Debbie’s standard response was “No!” She would literally crouch down and keep shouting this over and over again. I found myself praying almost constantly that entire week. My prayers would start, “Please God…” and as the Lord helped me deal with each difficulty, they then became, “Thank you, God…”

Our goal was to give these children a week of carefree fun, but Debbie’s tantrums kept testing my patience and that of the camp directors too. After a couple of days of this negative behavior, we had a discussion about sending Debbie home early which greatly upset me. How could we take away this one week of fun from someone who rarely had the chance to do anything enjoyable? I pleaded with the directors to give her another chance and they agreed.

That same night, I found myself unable to sleep because of Debbie’s exceedingly vocal night terrors. She tossed and turned as she relived some terrifying experiences, and mumbled words such as “Don’t!” and “Stop!”

I got up to make sure she was all right and found her sleeping on her stomach facing me. I ran my hand lightly over her forehead, then up and down her back in a soothing manner. She didn’t seem to be sound asleep yet she was not fully awake either. As I kept rubbing her back, she continued to moan in a sing-song way. Even when I talked to her in an attempt to wake her out of her bad dream, she just moaned as if in pain. After about twenty minutes of this, I lay back down and tried to get to sleep, but it was impossible with all her moaning.

I lay wide awake. What to do now? I got up again and tried to quiet Debbie by rubbing her back. Once again, that didn’t work. Tears coursed down my face as I prayed for guidance…for Debbie to stop…to be able to fall asleep again. I was so tired. How was I going to handle the rest of the week?

Once more I tried to sleep. When that didn’t work, I went back to Debbie and tried to wake her up. “Debbie, are you all right? Are you having a bad dream?”

This time she seemed to hear me. The answering groan was different from the others, almost like a real answer.

“Do you want to get up and talk for a while?” I asked.

Debbie’s eyelids flickered and then opened briefly. “Yeah,” her sleep voice croaked as she sat up in her top bunk.

“Come on, I’ll help you climb down.” I assisted a very groggy Debbie by placing one of her feet at a time on each of the bunk bed steps. When she was standing on the floor, I led her to the designated play area next to her bed and sat down, pulling her to a sitting position next to me.

The night air was cold and crisp up here in the mountains, so I put my arm around her and covered us both with a blanket. I looked down at her in anticipation of our little talk. Instead, she leaned her head against my arm and fell asleep again.

I shook my head in disbelief, thinking that maybe all she had needed was a change of position. I decided to sit with her this way for a while and leaned my head back against the wall. In a few minutes, I started praying for her again.

I asked God what I could say or do to help Debbie adjust better because I wanted her to enjoy her camping experience. He showed me that Debbie’s life was full of commands. She was never asked about anything. He then gave me one word: choices.

Even here at camp, she was expected to adhere to rules and a schedule, which in itself is not a bad thing, but difficult for her to deal with. As I prayed about all of this, God showed me that if Debbie was given some limited choices, her responses might be different.

I sat with Debbie like this and prayed for about two hours. I realized then that I had better get some sleep before this day officially started. I eased Debbie away from me. “Do you want to sleep down here the rest of the night?” I whispered to her.

She seemed to understand and gave a sleep nod, so I slipped her down onto the bed and fetched her pillow from her bunk. Lifting her head gently, I placed the pillow beneath it and then tucked the blanket around her better. I stood next to her for a few minutes to make sure she was all right. Now it was time to get back to my own bed.

It was already 4:30 as I fell into a light, fitful sleep. I had to be up again in about an hour. This time Debbie slept peacefully.

Several hours later, Debbie started her usual tantrum when informed it was time for chapel. Before she could get carried away, I told her she had the choice of going to chapel with me or to the nurse’s office. Of course, she chose to stay with the nurse. But not more than fifteen minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and there stood Debbie. “I want to be here with you,” she whispered.

I smiled at her and nodded to the nurse, who had escorted Debbie to chapel. As we stood to sing, I felt Debbie’s small hand slip into mine. Thank you, God… Before that week was over, little Debbie asked Jesus Christ into her heart.

When we returned home, all who had served at camp were treated to a special dinner at church. The counselors each received a certificate inscribed with a Scripture passage our leaders thought best described us. Much to my surprise, I saw that my certificate contained Hebrews 11:1, the verse which begins a chapter all about faith.

Faith. I had started out on this journey with a great deal of skepticism. I didn’t understand why God would call someone like me to serve Him in this way, but He kept me going by faith throughout the entire week and left me with a new understanding of His enabling power. Whenever God resolves to use us in His work, He will enable us to do it!

And by the way, Debbie was in my charge again the following year —but what a changed Debbie! This time she helped me take care of my other little charge, a girl who had been brain-damaged from so much physical abuse that she sometimes had behavioral problems. After that week together, Debbie told me she couldn’t wait for her turn to be a counselor at that camp. And ten years later, Debbie did go through training to be a counselor at that same camp.

The lesson I learned through all of this comes back to me as I continue to learn what true faith is. Each of us can“count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”  (James 1:2-3).

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As for me, I continually pray that I will always be willing to answer God’s call in my life to walk by faith. To do otherwise is to miss a huge blessing!

*Not her real name for her privacy and protection.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 1

This is the first part of a two part series from GraceThruFaith

 

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 1

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Biblical answers for this age old question.

This has been the topic of several popular books over the years. One author’s conclusion was that either God cares for us but can’t help or else He can help us but doesn’t care. Isn’t that encouraging?

But this is the first and most frequently asked question when people are experiencing serious trouble, whether they’re believers or not. The answers seem to have eluded mankind since the incident between Cain and Able. I say answers because there appear to be at least three. The first and by far the most common is found by looking in a mirror. The second has to do with the consequences of sin in the world. And the third concerns our own sin nature. Let’s take them in order.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

First, when I say look in the mirror, I mean that most of us do more in a day to diminish our physical and mental wellbeing than to enhance it. Just look at our eating and exercise habits, the stress we create and endure in the work place, the way we enslave ourselves to materialism, the enormous load of debt and responsibility we carry, and the way we suffer and cause suffering in our relationships.

Read the rest here.

How to have true #JOY

Here is another good article from the GotQuestions? site, this one about true JOY—the JOY of the Lord—a subject dear to my heart. For the past couple of months I’ve been sharing Bible passages about JOY on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I had been searching and reading Scripture about JOY to help me remember that no matter what I’m going through or how I feel, I can still be JOYFUL because of the One from whom my ultimate JOY originates. And then I realized there must be others who are also struggling in their lives and might appreciate the Biblical reminders too. 

This article from GotQuestions? addresses the question about JOY very well.

How can I experience joy in my Christian life?

Question: “How can I experience joy in my Christian life?”

Answer: Joy is something we all long for but that often seems difficult to grab hold of. Experiencing joy should be a part of every Christian’s life. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, produced only by God’s work in us.

We know that even the most mature Christians experience periods of joylessness. For instance, Job wished he had never been born (Job 3:11). David prayed to be taken away to a place where he would not have to deal with reality (Psalm 55:6–8). Elijah, even after defeating 450 prophets of Baal with fire called down from heaven (1 Kings 18:16–46), fled into the desert and asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:3–5). So how can we experience joy in the Christian life?

The first thing is to realize that joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is circumstantial and fleeting. Joy is a heart posture. The root word for joy in the Greek is chara, which is closely related with the Greek charis for “grace.” Joy is both a gift of God as well as a response to the gifts of God. Joy comes when we are aware of God’s grace and His favor.

Read the rest here.

 

10 Bible Passages for When You’re Hurting

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It is no surprise that the reality of life here on earth means we won’t be gliding effortlessly through our days. In fact, there is so much to discourage us. Sickness and diseases. Family problems. Tension at work, including job (in)security. What if we have lost our job and are having trouble finding another one?

Beloved, we can find many Bible verses that can help calm and soothe us when we’re hurting. The ones I’ve listed below are only a few I am appreciating right now. My prayer for all of us is that by clinging to these verses we will always turn to the One who can help us through these tough times: Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

Joshua 1:9 NKJV— Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 9:10 NKJV— And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Psalm 34:17-18 NKJV—The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

John 16:33 NKJV—These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Romans 5:3-4 NKJV— And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 8:28 NKJV— And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:35-39 NKJV 

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NKJV—We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

James 1:12 NKJV—Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.